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Mr and Mrs Craig | Opengate Church & Southend Barns

You know that feeling when you know you are going to enjoy something before you start it? Well, that’s how I feel about this blog, and I predict there’s gonna be a lot to say!!

I have known Christina (or CJ as she is lovingly referred to) and her family for many years. We have all been members of the same church in Bognor Regis and its a privilege to class the Jenkin’s family as my friends. When CJ’s boyfriend was planning to climb Ama Dablam last year for charity, CJ’s sister, Sophia, couldn’t resist sharing with us his greater plan to take the ring he was planning to propose with up to the summit to photograph as part of the big proposal!  (I popped a little of that back story in my blog about their engagement). Of course the months between Jon’s climb and the proposal seemed to take forever, but naturally, on Christmas Day, CJ said yes to Jon!

Ama Dablam heights
A proposal with a difference

 

When CJ and Jon asked me to be their wedding photographer in Chichester, I felt incredibly honoured (and a little scared…”can I put my pro head on when I’m with my mates??!!”), but the responsibility didn’t end there. As part of our church, we are encouraged to have a “Marriage Preparation Course“. It’s a course designed over a number of sessions to cover a whole host of subjects to really help a couple prepare themselves for marriage: what it means; what they expect from each other; what difficulties or points of difference/conflict may arise;  how to identify and work through them etc etc. It’s actually a great course that I would recommend to anyone planning to get married whether they have a faith or not. Anyhow, CJ and Jon felt that my husband, Tom, and I were the ones to take them through this course. How we faired by their estimations? You would have to ask them! But for Tom and I it really deepened our relationship with them and got to see their hearts for each other as a couple. We didn’t know Jon too well before this as he lives in Bristol, but having a monthly get together where we had dinner and ran through that sessions course material with them and shared stories was a wonderful time where we really bonded. It really helps too as a photographer to have your subjects at total ease with you, and after going through the course and all we discussed, I guess there was no room left for being camera shy!!

 

Christina & Jon

 

CJ & Jon had chosen Southend Barns near Chichester as their reception venue. The bonus to this was the use of the large Bridal Suite behind the Milking Shed in the morning. A necessity when you come from a family full of loud, vibrant and excitable women with Italian blood!! CJ and her bridesmaids (sister, cousins, friends), her hairdresser (Auntie), her make-up artist (friend) and Mum were all well established in the process of getting ready (and chatting) when I arrived, you could just feel the energy bouncing around the walls! While the girls were busy taking pictures, Tweeting and Instagram-ing everything I quickly got to work. My first point of call was CJ’s beautiful wedding dress and her shoes. It was the most stunning gown with a sweetheart bust, and yards of hand stitched lace embellished with crystals and pearl drops over a satin gown. CJ had chosen to dress the bridesmaids in coral and the flower girls in soft pink and had managed to find a pair of shoes for herself that captured her favourite colours…not to mention a killer heel!!

 

Christina & Jon 1

CJ & JON

Christina & Jon 3

Christina & Jon 4

 

While the girls were busing themselves, Lee, my trusted No.2 was hanging out with the boys at Jon’s brother’s house in Bosham. I think we would agree that the atmospheres were worlds apart! While the girls were still deciding which eyeliner, how much hairspray and talking at each other at the same time while spontaneously falling into giggle fits, the boys were chilling out on the sofa comparing notes on Apple devices and generally not worrying about a thing. Except for maybe the ironing. Oh, and the tie tying.

 

Christina & Jon 6

Christina & Jon 5

Christina & Jon 8

Christina & Jon 9

 

CJ was having her hair done in a rather complicated up-do (I can barely manage the most basic plait, even with Pinterest instructions!!) by her incredibly talented Auntie Angie of Elegancia Hair. It really did look stunning. The rest of the girls had loose, flowing curls from waterfall plaits and large daisy pins. The overall look was naturally, rather than formally, glamourous. When it was time to do CJ’s makeup, she chose to have this done in her bedroom. This was a great opportunity to capture her without any distractions…and have a quick catch up!! Larissa & Sophia, CJ’s mum and sister, came to help her get into her dress. It was so lovely to see the interactions between three people I know so well as they took part in this poignant moment of the day. I have to admit to welling up a little myself, at which point CJ swiftly told me off as I was the one she said she was relying on to “hold it all together!!”. At this moment, when many brides get the sudden turn in the stomach as the nerves appear, CJ just looked naturally stunning and happy.

 

Christina & Jon 7

Christina & Jon 12

Christina & Jon 13

Christina & Jon 14

 

When CJ did the big reveal of herself fully dressed and ready for the ceremony it was great to capture her bridesmaids doing a little of what they had been doing all morning…..taking pictures; Tweeting & Instagram-ing!!

 

 

Christina & Jon 16

 

Before journeying to Bognor Regis for the ceremony, the boys had a quick stroll around Bosham Harbour which provided a great backdrop for some portraits of them together. I love the movement in the clouds and the calm water, not to mention the cheeky catalogue pose!!

 

Christina & Jon 10

Christina & Jon 11

 

 

CJ had time in the morning to share some gifts she  had bought for her bridesmaids. Some lovely earrings which they all chose to wear that day. In true CJ style, she had coordinated the wrapping and ribbon with the colour theme set throughout the day! We had time to take a quick portrait of the girls together….with a special illusion of Kiara, the flower girl, appearing to grow out of CJ’s dress!!

 

Christina & Jon 15Christina & Jon 17

 

While Jon and his groomsmen were at Opengate Church greeting their guests and making final tweaks to the set up, CJ was on her way to the awaiting VW Campervan with her father to be delivered to the church. Now, Southend Barns is a stunning setting, with a photo opportunity around every corner, but on this occasion, there were a few unwelcome wasps hovering around. The thing that makes me smile most about this picture is actually the shot I took a second before this when all calm composure was lost and a look of absolute terror took over CJ’s features as the wasps appeared! For the sake of my friendship, I will not be including that image. Instead, you can see the version where a proud father looks lovingly at his beautiful daughter…..

 

Christina & Jon 19

 

I love how, when we arrived at the church I was able to see the contrast again of how the girls vs boys were handling the anticipation of the “walk down the aisle moment”. The girls, continued to chat and giggle and emit nervous excitement while the boys looked as chilled out as chilled out can be!! The church and aisle had been decorated in wild flowers with bunting across the ceilings in the same colour scheme as the dresses. As CJ approached Jon and met at the end of the aisle, their joy could not be more pronounced.

Christina & Jon 20

Christina & Jon 21

Christina & Jon 22

Christina & Jon 23

 

An interesting fact about this service is that CJ’s father is also a Pastor, therefore after having a somewhat awkward conversation with himself over “who gives this woman away” he quickly stepped up to the post and took on what I’m sure would have been an even greater honour than giving his daughter away. Marrying her to her betrothed aswell. We were all in stitches at this point shown in the first photo, however, when Steve started leading the vows and called his future son-in-law by the wrong name!!! The ceremony was full laughter and love. They had started with a period of time for worship before settling in for the vows and talks, all lead by close family or friends. It was really evident during the course of the day how much family meant to them both and how importantly they valued it.

 

Christina & Jon 24

Christina & Jon 25

Christina & Jon 26

Christina & Jon 27

Christina & Jon 28

 

Once Mr & Mrs Craig had signed the register they exited the building to a loud Rudimental track, leaping off the stage before dancing back up the aisle! After a short while of hugs, kisses, congratulations and chatter the guests started making their way to Southend Barns while Lee and I got to hang out with CJ and Jon for some portraits. It was a lovely day with perfect conditions so we nipped down to the beach for some shots, giving CJ and Jon a chance to catch up with one another. The thing I love about shooting weddings is it gives you the chance to do things that on a normal day the general public would not give you the grace for….like stopping traffic or taking over someone’s beach hut!

Christina & Jon 29

Christina & Jon 30

Christina & Jon 31

Christina & Jon 32

 

When we arrived at Southend Barns after a short journey filled with kit-kats and updating of Facebook statuses…because “if it’s not on Facebook it didn’t happen!” A roar of cheers and clapping from the guests greeted them as they walked through the gates and a wall of confetti to receive their much needed welcome drink. As the rain was starting to fall, we decided to do the family portraits in the Milking Shed as opposed to outdoors in the grounds. I’m really pleased with that decision as the photographs made for a less traditional line up with no one hiding or trying to duck out of shot as is often the case!! A lot of silly face pulling was also on the agenda for many of the photos!

 

Christina & Jon 33

Christina & Jon 34

Christina & Jon 35

 

 

While the guests made their way to the main barn for the reception meal, we were able to whisk CJ & Jon away for a few moments to take advantage of the break in rain and explore the other sceneries the venue had to offer. The infinity water feature was one of my favourites.

 

Christina & Jon 37

 

As we all sat down for the meal, I had the pleasure of sitting next to my husband. As he plays in wedding bands it’s a rarity that we are at the same wedding at the same time! We got chatting with some lovely people who had come  down from Bristol to be part of the nuptials. The meal was delicious….a tasty soup followed by the most succulent beef. Field and Fork do a great job of catering for weddings and events at Southend Barns. I would really recommend using their services in Chichester too. I really felt stuffed and replenished after the busyness of shooting that day. While multi-tasking camera battery charging with dessert eating you could feel the energy change in the room as plates were cleared and speeches were prepared. As is oft the case, the Father of the Bride speech brought tears to eyes, the Groom’s speech was glowing in thanks and praise and the Best Man’s speech, well, that served well to embarrass Jon with tales from his stag do. Especially when the picture appeared of him dressed up in a pretty frock and stockings for the quad biking part of the stag do…

 

Christina & Jon 39

Christina & Jon 38

Christina & Jon 40

Christina & Jon 41

 

As you can see from the picture above, the cakes were numerous! Some friends had created a plethora of these naked cakes that I can thankfully say I managed to taste!! Normally as a wedding photographer you would never assume to help yourself to what is on offer for the guests, but when faced with these I had to quickly whip out my guest card and dive in for one of these beauties!! Delicious doesn’t even cut it. In fact, as I write this at 10 am, I am considering stepping out for more cake to try and recreate the experience knowing that I will be disappointed if it’s not as good.

While the tables were being swiftly cleared and the barn prepped for the evening’s party we had a great chance to sneak the bridal party out the back for some fun photos. I don’t know what trickery and magic Southend Barns use for their lawn, but I would really like some of it for my garden. It is the greenest, bounciest, prettiest lawn I have seen in a long time. As you can see from the next picture, CJ needed no invitation to sink her bare feet into it’s softness and relax back in extreme comfort! Her Bridesmaids quickly followed suite. In an other image, not shown here, shows the groomsmen all standing around looking perplexed as to why lying on the floor would be fun, or even comfortable! I guess they missed out eh girls?!

 

Christina & Jon 42

Christina & Jon 43

 

 

The group photo is where the boys really excelled themselves. They were incredibly creative when it came to finding alternative ways of having their portraits done. Some scaling of the building occurred, some sleeping and lots of jumping!! The girls did great too looking sexy and sassy as the boys played. How CJ & Jon missed all this going on, who knows!!

 

Christina & Jon 45

 

Jon was keen to see the bridal suite as he had not been there since they booked the venue for their reception. A lot of silliness started to occur….at this point the call for a coffee was strong so I sensibly left them to it!!

 

Christina & Jon 47

Christina & Jon 46

 

After the coffee had kicked in for us and the guests the party really started! CJ and Jon danced their first dance to John Legend’s “All of You” sung by Sophia, CJ’s sister and bridesmaid. It really was a beautiful rendition. I’m looking forward to seeing her cover of that come up on YouTube soon. Mr & Mrs Craig then led their revellers in a flash dance to the Macarena. It is incredible after all these years how many people still know the actions!! The outside area has a fire pit where the men naturally flocked to show off their fire skills (and eat toasted marshmallows!). For those that are more camera shy we had a portable polaroid frame with which to entice & capture people as they partied. The poses became somewhat sillier as the evening progressed.

 

Christina & Jon 51

Christina & Jon 48


Christina & Jon 52

Christina & Jon 50

 

The evening went on till late, with music, pulled pork baps and a bar keeping the masses entertained. The dance moves got more inventive and the chatter became more animated. It really was a lovely wedding where family and friends all pulled together in a vibrant display of love, laughter and joy centring around the happiness of a couple newly married.

Mr & Mrs Craig, I am delighted to call you my friends, and honoured to have been able to be your wedding photographer. I am looking forward to seeing more of you in your new home together in Bristol, having amazing coffee made for us and scrum my meals too. I wish you every blessing in your new life together, may it continue to overflow with the love and happiness that you share.

Fiona xxx

Christina & Jon 44

 

 

 

 

Lythe Hill Hotel

Mr & Mrs Greenaway | Lythe Hill Hotel & Spa

I met Steve and Diane last year through a friend of mine who put them in touch with me as a potential wedding photographer for their upcoming nuptials. They were planning to get married at a lovely location called Lythe Hill Hotel & Spa in Haslemere, Surrey. Now, for those that know me, I’m always on the lookout for nice spa hotels….with 2 toddlers and a business & household to run I am partial to being treated by my loving husband now and then!!

Steve, Diane and I met up again at Lythe Hill Hotel to discuss and arrange the plan of their day, but also to scope out the land for suitable photographic spots whilst stalking them with my cameras to help get them prepared for being photographed on their wedding day. The hotel had many stunning spots: outdoor gazebo’s; ponds; bridges; acres of green landscaped lawns….but we became a little adventurous and wandered through the thickets and brambles to find a hidden bluebell crop. This is one of the shots from that day that Steve & Diane chose to have printed and mounted so their wedding guests could sign the mount before framing it, as a momento from the day.

Diane & Steve engagement
Hunting the bluebells on their engagement shoot

On the morning of the wedding day, I dropped Lee (my trusted No 2!) at Lythe Hill to capture Steve as he prepared for the ceremony with his son Dom. I made my way up the road to meet Diane at her sisters….I hadn’t counted on my sat-nav become a little confused in the small country roads and signal-free Surry hills. Thankfully a quick phone call later, we were all where we should be ready to go!

Steve & Dom
Steve & Dom suited & booted ready to go.

Diane, her sisters and her nieces & nephew were all at the house getting ready, as well as parents, husbands and dogs! It all seemed incredibly under control and calm however. Everyones hair and makeup was done, all that was left to do was get Diane in her dress. After clearing the room from all except one sister and niece (also a bridesmaid), Diane was helped into the most stunning ivory gown. It was simply elegant. The fabric curved and clung in all the right places, the neckline sat just off Diane’s shoulders with a classic brooch on one side and the train showed off it’s length without being flouncy or in the way. It really was elegant.

wedding dress detail

Diane's wedding shoes

Diane & the dress

Diane and her wedding dress

As their wedding day approached, we had all been eagerly watching the weather report as a rainy day had been forecast. This is not normally a problem, but Steve & Diane had originally planned on their ceremony being held outdoors on the lawns in the gazebo overlooking the pond. Despite more clement weather arriving for their wedding day, the grounds were quite wet from the previous nights rains, so they moved their ceremony to the stunning Garden Room with wooden beams and a great glass roof. They decorated it with handmade pompoms and bunting which complemented the pink and purple colour theme. It was here that Steve was waiting patiently, doing his best to show how nervous he wasn’t!

Steve waiting in the Garden Room

Steve waiting

As Diane travelled with her father to Lythe Hill, she was met by the rest of her bridesmaids who were waiting for her at the venue. This was also a momentous occasion for Nicky, Diane’s chief bridesmaid and niece as she would not only be leading the way down the aisle for her aunt….she was also the Hotel’s Wedding and Event’s Co-ordinator. nothing like a bit of pressure for the staff working that day!!

Diane arriving

Diane arriving

Here comes the part of the day that sets the butterflies in my stomach going, even now! The part where the Groom finally gets to watch his bride walk down the aisle towards him. The sun had come out and sunlight was streaming in through the glass roof of the Garden Room, really illuminating the colours that had been put together so thoughtfully. I must admit though, Steve still didn’t succumb to “normal Groom behaviour” as there were still no sign of any nervousness from him!

Diane & Steve

Diane & Steve

As friends and family looked on to witness Steve and Diane get married, very few could hold their amusement as the happy couple giggled their way through their vow taking….prompting a question from the registrar as to whether they were actually serious! I felt this just encapsulated the laughter and love they share together as a couple. I had certainly felt this on the previous occasions we had met together. They even managed to squeeze in some time to take a selfie whilst signing the register!

Diane & Steve Ceremony

Diane & Steve Ceremony

Diane & Steve Ceremony

After the ceremony, we spent some time taking some of the formal group shots, before whisking Diane & Steve away for a spell to capture some portraits of just the two of them. The weather held up beautifully. Considering it was due to be a rainy, stormy day, we were all very thankful to see the sun! Steve & Diane had become naturals at having their photo taken, especially after the Engagement Shoot session we had previously had. It was such a great way to get to know a couple better before their big day (and to get them used to being papped all day!!)

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

As well as the acres of greenery with the old tudor style buildings in the distance, the hotel also had some more modern options for photographic backdrops, including the wall of the Spa we were all desperate to have some time in!!

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

As Lee and I prepared our last shots for the day and Steve & Diane prepared to enter the Garden Room ready for the wedding breakfast, we lamented that we would not be able to stay for the party….especially as my husband was in the band, The 88’s!! Next time!!

Many congratulations Steve and Diane….May you continue your marriage with as much (if not more) laughter & love as which you entered it! It was a pleasure to serve you both.

Diane & Steve

CJ & Jon | The Engagement Shoot

Having known CJ and her family for many years, to say I’m excited to be shooting her wedding next month is an understatement!! I’ve been really blessed to have developed a great friendship with CJ and her fiancé Jon over this last year. Also, knowing the family, I have often had inside information and exciting tidbits about developments within their relationship that are yet to happen!The biggest secret so far has been “The Proposal”

The Trundle Spin
You spin me round round, baby right round….

Jon is an avid mountaineer and decided to combine his passion for CJ with that of scaling great heights. Last year, Jon went on a trek to climb Ama Dablam, a mountain in the Himalaya range in Eastern Nepal. Asides from doing the climb to raise money for charity and because he enjoys it, there was another mission. To carry and keep safe an engagement ring with which to propose to CJ. At the summit of Ama Dablam, Jon took a picture of the ring flanked by snow capped mountains. Upon his return, this ring picture was printed into a canvas and hidden from CJ for a WHOLE MONTH before presenting it to her, gift wrapped on Christmas Day. Needless to say, she said yes!! How cool is that!!

Ama Dablam heights
A proposal with a difference

So, when we discussed what kind of Engagement Shoot they wanted we decided to combine both of their loves. The Trundle near Chichester, West Sussex was chosen as although not a mountain, it is high (for me). An Iron Age Hill Fort that boasts spectacular views of West Sussex and Hampshire. Jon, being from Bristol, hadn’t been to The Trundle. We also decided to go to the beach in Bognor Regis as it is a place that CJ is often to be found, relaxing, walking, paddling & hanging out with friends and family. The beach is a place close to her heart so it seemed the perfect place to capture her with the man who heart she holds.

CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Feeling On Top Of The World

The Trundle was a great place to take pictures. With fabulous views for miles and scenery awash with different shades of green it felt incredibly peaceful. It was also pretty low on human traffic. That gave us a great chance to slowly meander our way around pausing here and there to take pictures, look at the flora and fauna and have a general natter about the forthcoming wedding.

Sitting in the glory
Watching The World Go By
CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Trying hard to ignore the creepy crawlies
CJ & Jon at The Trundle
Happy Faces

After we’d exhausted The Trundle and tried to locate our homes in the views we set off back down to Bognor Regis and the beach. Rather than diving straight in, we had a coffee and ice-cream break. This gave us time to plan the finer details of the wedding day that will be happening at Opengate Church in Bognor Regis and Southend Barns in Donnington. It also gave the tide the chance to retreat some more!

CJ & Jon on Bognor Beach
Watch out for those rocks!!

The great thing about the beach is there are a plethora of backdrops and natural props to use. Fishermen leave their boats up on the stones, families lovingly decorate their beach huts and nature has blessed us with sand, sea, pebbles and giant rocks!! We unanimously decided we’d have a shorter session on the beach as the air had developed a windy chill and our tummies grumbled louder for food. We couldn’t resist, however, pausing to take pictures with this fabulous beach hut that gave a cheerful end to a lovely day of photos and wedding talk.

CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
The lingering smell of the fisherman’s haul is not off-putting at all, no really…
CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
Summer Lovin’
CJ & Jon @ Bognor Beach
Salty Kisses, Summer Wishes

Roll on August 28th!!! Can’t wait guys!!

tender moments

Mr & Mrs Brigstock | Hendall Barns, Uckfield.

May Bank Holiday was a busy weekend. On the glorious, sunshiny Saturday my destination was a stunning wedding venue, Hendall Manor Barns near Uckfield, North of Brighton. The couple, Emma and Paul had planned for their wedding ceremony and reception to be held here. Joining me on the journey was Jim, of Jim Elliott Video and Photography. The venue is in the middle of rolling green fields which just invite you to stop, take a moment and just view the world. It really is stunning.

There was a sense of calm when we arrived, helped I’m sure by the professional and friendly staff at Hendall Manor Barns who were ensuring all things were set and in place as planned (and doing a wonderful job of chasing up the delayed flowers!). Paul was looking remarkably chilled out as he was waiting during the final stages of the set up, happily taking time out to pose with his brothers who were taking the role of Best man and Usher for the day. Emma & Paul’s son Oscar was also there waiting, playing with some other children and being incredibly well behaved (I need tips for my children!!).

Paul and his groomsmen
Paul staying serious with his brothers.
Where's the aeroplane?
Oscar and his friends

Paul,his groomsmen and son didn’t go for the traditional buttonhole flower accessory. Instead, Paul had commissioned a jewellery maker, Alexandra Howard to make some lapel badges and tie pins for them all to wear. These looked amazing, a steampunk style that really complemented the slim-fit blue suit with black trims that Paul was wearing.

No buttonholes here...
Custom made jewellery, steampunk style

With perfect timing, Emma, her parents and bridesmaids arrived in a vintage VW split screen Campervan supplied by Delux Wedding Hire based in Crawley, West Sussex. I learnt 2 things: 1) the camper was called Candy after its Vintage White and Apple Red colouring. And, 2) I want one!! Emma looked beautiful wearing a strapless ivory gown with incredibly delicate fabric flower details along the décolletage and hips, finished off with a veil. Her bridesmaids complemented her perfectly in deep purple-blue dresses.

Vintage Campervan
Arriving in style in Candy
Anticipation
Candid capture through the glass
Vintage style entrance in a VW Camper van
Emma arrives in the VW Camper with her girlies
delicate flower detailing on the wedding dress
Gorgeous detailing

While Emma completed the legal conversation with the registrars the rest of the guests settled themselves into the main hall at Hendall. This brick barn building is flanked on its lengths by ginormous windows which allowed light to stream in and bounce off the walls creating a really warm feel to the room. It was a real pleasure to witness the interactions between Paul and both families as the start of the ceremony drew closer.

Paul comfortably waiting for his bride
Not nervous at all!
Mother of the bride looking glamorous
Mother of the bride looking glamorous
Something has tickled Paul's Mum!
Something has tickled Paul’s Mum!

Suddenly in a flurry the registrars returned. The atmosphere changed from jovial chit-chat to a quiet, nervous anticipation. This is one of my favourite moments during a wedding day, I feel that knot in my stomach and sense the adrenaline start to course through my body from the excitement of what is about to happen! From where I stand I am able to capture the visible emotion and anticipation of the groom as well as the emotions and expressions of the bride as she walks towards her beau. One of my favourite shots of today was during this moment. Oscar, their son, crept from his seat to peep past his father’s legs to watch his mother arrive and walk towards them. Paul’s nerves were visible, as was the simultaneous tenderness towards their son.

All heads turn to admire Emma
Here comes the bride
tender moments
A sneaky peek from Oscar
The first look
The first look

It was a pleasure to watch Emma and Paul exchange rings and vows (and a kiss!!) during the ceremony. Their friends and family looked on proudly as they married, then of course Oscar stole the show by joining them as they signed the register!

the kiss
You may now kiss the bride
Signing the register
The unofficial witness

After the ceremony we were able to whisk the new Mr & Mrs Brigstock away to the gorgeous and varied grounds at Hendall Manor Barns….but not before I spied the Best Man looking decidedly nervous for his next big role….the speeches, while Emma & Paul played around with the Camper oblivious to his near panic!!

Speeches next
You can’t hide the nerves!!
Candy the Camper
Peep-oh!!

Now, the grounds at Hendall really are beautiful. If you come out of the main wedding and reception area there is an array of areas that are just crying out to be used as a backdrop. The first place we used was the car park barn. This may seem like a bizarre place to settle, but when doing the recce of the location a few months previously I spotted these wonderful railway sleepers used as a wall. Lovely textures that lend itself to both colour and black and white photography.

Newlywed Portrait
Just hanging out in a car park…as you do.

We then walked the scenic route round the grounds using pathways and greenery as the main components for the composition of some more photos before coming to the Manor House. This is the owners private dwelling, but they very kindly allow us to use it for the photographs and boy am I glad! I couldn’t resist asking Emma and Paul to sit and chat for a moment on some small steps leading up to a summery, yellow door. This door makes me want to rethink my own exterior colour scheme at home!!

Hendall Manor House
Nobody’s answering the door…

Popping through a side gate into the private gardens we came to the piece-de-resistence….the pillars. For those that don’t know Paul, he is a singer, a rock singer, and I felt the unplanned & unposed shot as he lifted their entwined hands in the air was befitting for his craft and personality. As we continued to spend some time in this area we really got to see the love and happiness that was bouncing between these two. Emma could not stop smiling and laughing as they chatted and posed and chatted some more.

We did it!!
Thank you Wembley
Hendall Manor House
Just hanging around, swinging in the breeze
Hendall Manor House
These guys just can’t stop kissing!!

Our last point of call as we returned Emma and Paul to their guests was to capture some shots of them with their families and friends before they sat down to their meal. Again, the location couldn’t be more perfect. Back in the central courtyard there are some steps leading up to the barn and its large glass doors. This provided an opportunity to capture the reflection of the blue sky that blessed the day without getting any of the sun-squint in peoples eyes! Winners all round. I even found some new assistants for the afternoon.

Blue sky perfection
The new family together
Start 'em young!!
New talent to keep me on my toes

As we called it a day and left Emma & Paul to enjoy the rest of their celebrations I have to say it was a glorious day. The bride and groom looked so happy, the venue was a dream and I got home well before dark ready to prepare for a wedding the following day! What a privilege to be part of such a lovely wedding. Thank you Mr & Mrs Brigstock, and congratulations!!

Emma & Paul
Emma & Paul
Congratulations
The new Mr & Mrs Brigstock
wedding day photography, london photographer, central london, devonshire terrace

Mr & Mrs Jennings | Devonshire Terrace, London

For those that know me, May the 4th is usually spent enjoying my birthday… *ahem* 24 *ahem*!! This year however I found myself hotfooting up to the City of London with my trusted 2nd Lee to shoot the wedding of Maria and Stuart.

Bride & Groom portrait in London
Just leaning on a post in your wedding day suit, as you do…

What a fabulous day it was. We started the day finding Maria and Stuart at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Tower Hill getting ready in their respective rooms,of course, Maria had the bigger of the two….what bride wouldn’t!! While Lee was busy with the boys and their struggles to tie ties and attach cufflinks with one hand, I was on hand with Maria, her mother, and her bridesmaid Lauren. Aside from the make-up and hair, and the fabulous something blue (a gorgeous pair of blue Manolo Blahnik stilettos) my favourite capture of the day must have been the look on Maria’s face as she opened her gift from her husband-to-be…a gorgeous diamond bracelet. Of course, this became a new accessory for her bridal outfit!

Mulberry cufflinks, London wedding
These new cufflinks will go on…
London wedding, Manolo's
A little Manolo Blahnik to make you walk tall
Diamond, London wedding
Maria opens her lovely wedding day gift from Stuart

As Stuart and the boys were finishing up their drinks and preparing to head to the venue, Maria was putting the finishing touches to her outfit and hair. It was a real privilege to be there to capture those precious and intimate moments of emotion between mother and daughter, and awe from the flower girl arriving and getting her first look at the beautiful bride.

Doubletree Hilton, Tower Hill London
Stuart and his Groomsmen enjoy one last tipple before the cabs arrive
Mother of the bride, Hilton, Tower Hill, London
Maria and her Mother share a touching moment
London, Doubletree Hilton, London wedding photographer
As Maria greets her page boy and flower girl, the look on her face says it all. Utter awe.

A short taxi drive later and we arrive at Devonshire Terrace in Central London. Being in the centre of the financial district, it is usually closed on weekends, except for weddings, so it was really nice to have an urban oasis in the middle of the city that was relatively tourist free. The building Devonshire Terrace is situated in is impressive. Imagine (with lego, my visual brain says) building the deep, outer walls of a rectangular block 6 storeys high leaving the central space free of building, instead turning it into a usable courtyard space protected from the elements by a glass roof.

The ceremony was fantastic. As the groom, Stuart, nervously waited for his bride, Maria was busy having some photos with her bridal party under the large brick arches that connect the courtyard to the outside world. Then she arrives, a beautiful vision in an ivory bejewelled gown with stunning satin corsetry and a fashionable tulle fishtail skirt.

Devonshire Terrace, London, Wedding photography
Those precious moments before Maria goes to meet her Groom
devonshire Terrace weddings, London, wedding photographer
This shot gives a great look at THE DRESS, but also an feel for the venue, Devonshire Terrace

Maria surprised her new husband by hiring vocalists and musicians who popped up out of the congregation as the ceremony finished, performing ‘All You Need Is Love’, inspired by the film Notting Hill. They also sang the new Mr & Mrs Jennings back down the aisle to a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’

I had planned to take Maria and Stuart out into the London streets to capture some urban portraits of them both. Immediately out through the arches provided some fantastic backdrops with which to compose them. They were a great couple to work with who were very happy to be papped on their special day. We went for a series of candid and artistic poses as well as some more traditional shots. One of my favourites was the an edgy edit I did where the (now filthy) underskirts of Maria’s dress were exposed. This appealed to my alternative creative side.

wedding, london, devonshire terrace, photographer, portraits
Those first moments where a drink and a catch up is much needed!
wedding photography London, kiss portrait,
Well, it may not be the famous painting….but pretty close I reckon!!
wedding photography London Devonshire Terrace,
You would never know, 50m on there is a constant stream of traffic and pedestrians. We got lucky!
wedding dress, Manolo Blahnik heels, blue shoes, london wedding photography
Something for the dry cleaners….

While Maria, Stuart and their guests sat down to enjoy their meal Lee and I took a well earned break to devour the amazing tapas style food that was on offer and do what all good photographers do…..talk gear & shots and drink coffee!

The rest of the evening continued in good cheer and celebration. Speeches were delivered, toasts made, champagne drunk and dances danced. First up on the dance floor were the page boys and flower girls who well and truly rocked out before Maria and Stuart took to the floor for their well choreographed first dance.

Bridal party portraits, London wedding photography, Devonshire Terrace Photographer
Well, with kids, what else is there to do?!
Wedding day first dance, children, bridal party, wedding photography London
Before anyone else got to boogie, these little guys rocked!!
wedding day photography, london photographer, central london, devonshire terrace
Mr & Mrs J take to the dance floor

Maria had thoughtfully provided some comedy props which came in incredibly handy, especially when coaxing the shyest of the party to be photographed. This is certainly something I would recommend doing, especially if a studio photo booth isn’t feasible.

wedding photography in London, Devonshire Terrace wedding photography
As a rule, every wedding couple have to have at least one picture of their photographer!!

As the night for us came to an end and all our gear was re-packed and loaded into the car, we began the journey back to the South Coast with our eyes on lookout for a coffee stop! The wedding of Mr & Mrs Jennings was a fabulous day. A lot of fun and a wonderful experience. It was a pleasure to be able to play a part in their day. Congratulations Maria & Stuart, wishing you a lifetime of blessings and happiness.

wedding photography in London, Devonshire Terrace wedding photography
One Last kiss for us to capture under the arches of Devonshire Terrace, London
Fiona Mills

Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

After many conversations over the years I have put together a guide on how to choose your wedding photographer. I hope it helps you.

Step 1: Ask A Friend.

It is so easy to tap into Google “your location”+ “Wedding Photographer” and have a zillion hits in under a nano-second, but where do you go from there? Clicking on a few will certainly give you a great starting point, often though, you may find that just doing a shout out amongst your friends will give you a list of personally recommended local photographers that won’t have made it on Google until at least page 5!! As these photographers may have shot their weddings/christenings/family portraits etc, your friends will be able to tell you if they had good, bad or amazing experiences…you may even have walked past and complemented some of these images as you’ve sat in their lounge having a cuppa!

Asking your friends on Facebook will net you a good response.
Asking your friends on Facebook will net you a good response.

Step 2: Stalk Your List (Research)

You’re armed with a handful of potential photographers, your computer and a large coffee (or glass of red!!)…start stalking them. Check out their websites, online portfolios and prices. Is there a style you are seeing that you really like or don’t like? Have you a budget in mind for your wedding photography/videography? Set up a board on Pinterest and start to catalogue the type of things you have liked the look of. Are there a few photographers you’ve come across that you would like to find out more about? create a shortlist of ones to meet.

Check out the online profiles of potential photographers.
Check out the online profiles of potential photographers.

Step 3: Define Your Details

Style: As you have been researching, you may have found a particular photography style that stands out to you, be it formal; black & white; digital vs film; light and airy; quirky etc. Many photographers will display an array of styles in their portfolios as they will be adaptable to the clients needs, but checking out their bio may give you some insight into what their main shooting style is. Again, a portable list of examples like a scrap book, or Pinterest is a great tool to use when you meet potential photographers, but be aware every picture is unique to a set of circumstances: location; people; lighting; time of day; equipment used etc etc so it is very unlikely that a photographer will be recreating those images on your wedding day, rather, they will be using your inspiration to inspire them creatively.

Price: A wedding is made up of so many factors that all come with a price. Some items are administrative (registering your intent to marry) and others are product or labour based (the catering, for example). Some are short term (the flowers & the canapés) and some are long term (the wedding rings and the photographs). It is really important to look at your overall budget and decide how you want to divide it. It wouldn’t necessarily be the wisest choice to blow 50% of your budget on a harpist while you sign the register while leaving 5% for your wedding photographer.

Portioning up Your Wedding Budget
Portioning up Your Wedding Budget

You may find the price of a wedding photographer frighteningly high or shockingly low…myself and a number of photographers I know generally agree that there are 3 main brackets for wedding photography prices: Low; Medium & High.

Low: A photographer who is in the low bracket will usually charge under £500 to shoot your wedding. In my experience, they are usually someone who is just starting out or working to get more experience in their chosen field. They may also be lower in price as they don’t offer the same post production service & finished products than those in a medium-high bracket will.The risk with choosing a photographer from a low price bracket is the potential lack of experience and the use of equipment that isn’t of a professional grade.They may not have the experience of what to do in situations when things go wrong, and may also not have sufficient back up gear. On the other hand, they may be incredibly talented photographers who just need a break and the experience to put their skills to the test. Due to their lack of experience, they may try harder and go above and beyond their duty to really make an impact….and they may be great in a crisis!

Medium: A medium priced photographer should be around the £1000-£2500 price range. This may sound like a lot, but what you are paying for is more than someone for a day. Generally photographers in this bracket are experienced in their field and will have a host of digital and actual portfolios to share with you. The gear they use will be of a high professional grade and they will also be carrying spares! An assistant will usually be on board and this will be part of the cost, and the photographer will spend a considerable amount of time on post production (editing). For me a wedding from planning to finished product usually uses between 50-80 hours of work. You should expect a photographer in this bracket to be fully insured, offer planning and preparation as part of your package and offer a number of options as to how you would like your finished product. E.g:  usb stick/online gallery; wedding albums; wall art; canvasses; prints etc. You may also find these photographers are very aware of the current economic climate , so will be able to guide you in how to cut corners and shave your budget and offer you options that suit your budget. They may also offer budget-tipping extras like: videography; pop-up-studio; engagement/trash the dress shoot; hand made albums etc. Many will also have started their journey to be aligned with a professional photographic association (BIPP/MPA/SWPP etc). If you’re lucky, they’ll be winning awards too and recognised in their field!

High: Those in the high bracket start their fees in excess of £3-5000. A photographer in this field will usually be exceptionally experienced with a standard of finished images and products that lend itself to the high price range. Their equipment will be of an ultra-high level pro grade and assistants on the shoot will come as standard. These photographers will often have developed a style that is unique to them and highly sought after by clients, rather than the med-low brackets who may be more flexible to the clients style needs. They may also have a celebrity following, think Hello / OK magazine wedding photography here!

When: Have you set a date yet for your wedding? It may seem silly, but getting your heart set on a photographer before setting your date could be dangerous! Also, have you through about how long you would like your day captured professionally for? From getting ready? Just the ceremony? First Dance? Finest party moves? You may find the length of coverage is a negotiation between your budget and dream photographer!

Step 4: Meet Your Shortlisted Photographers

This is not just an ideal opportunity for you to meet with a potential photographer, but for them to meet you too. It can be an incredibly emotional time on your wedding day, so it is important to feel comfortable with the person who is likely to be there, taking those intimate photos and walking that emotional journey in close contact with you. Aside from all the practical stuff, you are likely to feel a vibe, or have a gut feeling about the photographer. If your gut says an emphatic “NO” chances are that connection isn’t there. Strike them off your list.
Practically it is important to meet face-to-face, or if that isn’t possible at first, schedule a telephone conversation. Ideally meet with the photographer as a couple, if not, bring someone you trust with you, a family member, friend etc. Check out their portfolios, find out who they are and how they are likely to conduct themselves on your wedding day. Discuss your needs, show examples of what you like and don’t like and see if this is something the photographer gets.

See if your photographer gets your ideas for the day.
See if your photographer gets your ideas for the day.

Are they feeling your day….do they have ideas that could capture the vibe of who you are as a couple? Tell the photographer your dreams. Us photographers love to be creative, you may find we have something up our sleeves that isn’t advertised. Don’t be afraid to talk budgets! It is a real part of the deal that shouldn’t be embarrassing or awkward to bring up. If you’ve done your research you’ll know whether you’ve scheduled a meet with a photographer whose prices start at £1750, when your allotted budget is £750. Do be honest as to what you can and cannot afford, but don’t forget, you wouldn’t pop to TopShop and expect to pay half the ticket price just because it’s not in your budget.
Get a quote. You may get this in person at the meeting, but also get it in writing with details so you can compare and refer back to it when making your decisions. This will likely be emailed or posted to you after the meet. Ask questions. Do they need a deposit? When is completed payment due? How long do the images take? How long does an album take? What is the deal with copyright? What if my Mum wants an image? Who else will be there on the day? Hidden costs? Insured? etc etc. Take notes!! Remember, you should feel at ease with your chosen photographer, if you don’t, it may reflect in the images.

Step 5: Choosing Your Photographer

You’ve done the research, made your budget, set the date, booked your venue and met a bunch of photographers…..so, how do you choose? My first instinct would be to go with your gut, but that isn’t always practical or financially viable.
Break your shortlist down. Get rid of any you didn’t feel any sort of personal connection with, then look at your budget. Are there any on your shortlist that are wildly out of your budget? Unless you can shuffle your finances, maybe they also need to come off your shortlist. You may be left with one or two strong contenders at this point.

There is no hard or fast rule with how to make this final decision. For some, the image “wow factor” may be the deciding vote. For some, the personality of the photographer. For others, it may even be down to the £50 difference on the quote. If it is a small difference in the quotes it may be worth a quick call to your favourite choice to see if £50-£100 can be shaved off somewhere. If you still can’t make your mind up, other than meeting up a second time, you may just need to chat with your fiancé, sleep on it and just go with your gut!!

Good luck!